Obama's assessment of the economy reminds many of 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain's characterization of the economy. In September 2008, the investment firm Lehman Brothers was collapsing. Wall Street was shaking as the yet-to-be-declared recession deepened, but McCain said: "I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult times."
The reaction to McCain was harsh. His opponent, then-Sen. Obama, pounced: "We just woke up to news of financial disaster, and this morning he said that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong? Sen. McCain, what economy are you talking about?"
The Washington Post said: "Sen. Barack Obama seized on McCain's assessment of the health of the economy, blasting the Republican for being 'disturbingly out of touch' with the reality that everyday Americans face. 'I just think he doesn't know,' Obama said in Grand Junction, Colo. 'He doesn't get what's happening between the mountain in Sedona where he lives and the corridors of Washington where he works.'"
Let's look at the facts.
In McCain's case, unemployment at the time was 6.1 percent and rising. The economy was experiencing "negative growth." But in Obama's case, he correctly states we are in recovery. "The truth of the matter is," said the President, "we have created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months."
To paraphrase my grandfather, "Is Obama bragging or complaining?"
Last month, the economy produced a pathetic 69,000 jobs. The National Bureau of Economic Analysis revised last quarter's gross domestic product growth downward to a paltry 1.9 percent.
Economist John Lott points out: "Thirty-six months into the recovery and the private sector hasn't even made up half the jobs lost during the recession, let alone make up for the fact that there are about 7.6 million more working age people than when the recession started. What about the 4.2 million that were lost between when Obama became president and February 2010? The 'growth' just replaces what was lost during the first part of his administration. Let alone the 8.8 million private-sector jobs that were lost between when the recession started."
Do the math.